The Wisconsin Financial Responsibility Law requires all drivers to have an auto insurance policy in force. Unfortunately, many people do not understand what it means to have proper coverage to protect themselves and their assets in the event they cause a serious accident or are injured in a crash caused by an uninsured motorist. Oftentimes people say that they have “full coverage” but do not realize that, when it comes down to it, they are far from fully covered if a horrific accident were to occur. Full coverage simply means that not only does your policy have liability coverage, which pays for damages that you cause to other people or property, but it also includes collision and comprehensive coverage.
A significant, but common problem arises when people mistake the fact that they technically have “full coverage” with believing that the types and amounts of coverage they have are sufficient. When determining the amounts of coverage one should purchase, he or she should work with a knowledgeable insurance agent and consider their assets, income, and risk profile. One of the primary purposes of insurance is to protect your income and other assets and prevent you from financial ruin if an accident occurs. It is crucial to make an educated and informed decision when purchasing auto insurance to ensure that your income and other assets are protected.
The minimum limits of auto insurance one can purchase in Wisconsin are as follows:
• $25,000 for injury or death of one person
• $50,000 for injury or death of two or more people
• $10,000 for property damage
Additionally, Wisconsin law also requires a minimum of $25,000 per person, $50,000 for two or more people, in uninsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist, or UM, coverage applies to bodily injuries sustained by you, your family or other occupants of your vehicle when struck by an uninsured driver or a hit-and-run driver. Uninsured motorist coverage works by stepping in the shoes of the coverage the at-fault driver was mandated by law to have, but did not, and covers your damages up to the applicable limit on the policy.
Underinsured motorist, or UIM, coverage is not mandatory in the state of Wisconsin. UIM coverage increases the amount of bodily injury liability coverage to you and the occupants of your vehicle in the event that the at-fault driver has insufficient limits to pay for the full extent of your damages. If that is the case, the at-fault driver is, by definition, underinsured, and your UIM coverage should kick in as long as you have greater UIM limits than the underlying liability limits of the at-fault driver. Underinsured motorist limits are reduced by what was paid by the underlying liability limits.
Medical payments coverage pays medical expenses for you and occupants of your vehicle up to the applicable limit on your policy for injuries sustained in an accident while riding in your vehicle. Medical payment coverage applies to you, as the driver, even if you cause the accident. This coverage also applies to you and your family members if struck by a car as a pedestrian. Medical payments coverage can also apply if you or a family member are injured as a passenger in someone else’s vehicle, but depending on the policy language, it may be secondary to the medical payments coverage on the vehicle you were riding in at the time of the accident.
Medical payment coverage is a coverage that is oftentimes rejected as people do not understand why they would pay an additional premium for this type of coverage when they have health insurance. This happens most often when they do not have a knowledgeable agent to educate them about the different coverages and how they work. The minimum limit for medical payments coverage in Wisconsin is $1,000, but it is typically purchased with a limit of $10,000.
If you are involved in a crash with an uninsured motorist and only carry liability coverage on your own policy, there will be no coverage available to fix the physical damage to your vehicle. While collision coverage is also not mandatory in Wisconsin, it is useful to have if you do not have the financial ability to afford a similar vehicle should your vehicle be wrecked. A deductible typically applies for collision coverage. The deductible, usually $250 or $500, must be paid by the insured before the insurance company begins to pay for the loss.
These are the coverages that we, as Wisconsin personal injury attorneys, typically deal with when helping our clients after they have been injured in an auto accident. We help our clients understand the various types of coverage available – both from their own personal policies and the policies of the at-fault driver. While insurance is mandatory in the state of Wisconsin, we often see coverage insufficient to adequately compensate an injured victim for their injuries. This is why we believe it is important to educate Wisconsin motorists on the various insurance coverages available and why adequate coverage is so important.
When a negligent driver has insufficient coverage, the driver puts his or her own assets, income and livelihood on the line. Having full coverage in insufficient amounts can leave people in serious financial trouble. It is important to work with an insurance agent that you know and trust to ensure that you and your assets are protected even if a serious accident does happen.
It is common to have many questions after being involved in a motor vehicle crash. If you or someone you know has been injured in an auto accident, the team at Groth Law Firm may be able to help. We help our clients by investigating to find applicable insurance coverage for all parties involved and work directly with the insurance companies on our clients’ behalf so that they can focus on what is most important: getting the care that they need to make a full recovery. The skilled, dedicated and proven attorneys at Groth Law Firm fight for their clients who have been injured in motor vehicle crashes all across the state of Wisconsin. To see if the Groth Law Firm can help you, call (414) 375-2030 for a free consultation.
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